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How to be a strong leader in challenging times

At some point in working from home, every manager will think about his management style asking himself, “how can I improve the overall performance of my team?” Especially, now during economically uncertain times it is key to support staff to help the business to be successful. 

To achieve this, both employers working behaviour and the result outcome are important. 

  • Results: Staff must get the job done and meet the deadlines.
  • Behaviour: They must do the job in a way that reflects the organization’s expectations and values, how to treat team members or people outside the company.


Our experts explain how to address the two aspects, especially in times when people work from home. There are different factors influencing the performance while working from home than being in the office: kids, social isolation and fear of redundancies. 

First, you need to figure out, if you want to improve the results or the behaviour performance of your staff. The following tips will help you to analyse it and how to improve.

Result management 

Potential indicators for poor results are that results are not delivered on time, poor quality of work, and that deadlines are not met. Reasons for this could be that your staff feel overwhelmed with the project or have problems to structure himself.

Results can be improved by: 

  • Reducing workload and/or change priorities of work and help staff to structure their daily/weekly tasks
  • Set sub-goals during the project to achieve the overall objective 
  • Provide further training 
  • Mentoring or teamwork could help during WFH. Arrange “meetings” with another team members, who has experience in a specific assignment and can help as mentor or partner. This results in two-sides knowledge exchange and less work and time investment for the manager
  • Incentivise work and projects to show appreciation and mention top performances to senior management or stakeholders to increase their awareness for a team or person


Behaviour management

Potential indicators for poor behaviour while working from home, are less contact with peers, less engagement, no availability for a phone or Skype call or very short emails that show half-heartedness. 

Reasons for that could be that staff feels isolated, struggles to balance work and family life, has fear of redundancy or does not feel appreciation. Behaviour improvement is mostly harder to address and requires an understanding of the employee’s character, e.g. what are his motivators, what de-motivates him, what is important to him in a work environment. 

Behaviour can be improved by: 

  • Increase personal contact, e.g. change phone calls into video conferences (team or even one to ones) to highlight the personal aspect
  • Motivate by providing more/less structure (depending on the staff preferences)
  • Share staff success with senior management and important stakeholders, e.g. send out a project success story to staff members in an email 
  • Be a role model as manager in the areas you want your employee to improve himself 


One size does not fit all: the role of the manager 

Be mindful that people have different tension responses, some freeze, some fight and others flight. Be versatile with those you lead. Some team members may require greater levels of supervision and support from you; don’t judge and be flexible.

For both, result and behaviour improvement, a successful management style includes frequent, clear and transparent communication, structured objectives and the manager functioning as a role model. Especially in times of crisis and uncertainty, it is important for the manager to maintain the leading role. Trust from staff to manager is core in this situation. 

Therefore, in a WFH situation, we suggest managers to set themselves weekly objectives paired with daily objectives. Weekly and daily objectives should also be agreed with staff members – no matter if it's regarding results, behaviour improvements or both. This not only tracks performances, but also give the employee the feeling that his work is important to you and the business, and that he’s not fully isolated and has a team that relies on his work.

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